Monday, March 06, 2006

Trial Of The Century! Not

No matter how they try to spin this, it won't make it true.
No Delivery from Evil: "Federal prosecutors want a reply writ large of the 1997 Oklahoma City bombing trials, in which they wove together seamlessly emotional victim testimony with circumstantial evidence to gain the convictions of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. But McVeigh was a real murderer and Nichols did far more to help the bomb plot than Moussaoui came close to doing. And that is a factual difference that no somber litany of the names of the dead and no enormous in-court model of the Twin Towers can change.

If Moussaoui ultimately is condemned after this trial it won't be because he pulled a trigger (he didn't) or even knew of the specific 9/11 plot (he didn't). It won't be because he is the 9-11 mastermind (he wasn't) or because he was supposed to be on one of those doomed planes (he wasn't). It will be because federal conspiracy law is a vast expanse that authorizes the government to link together one sub-plot to another until the chain is established. Moussaoui was a terror conspirator. And terror conspirators murdered nearly 3,000 people on 9/11. Ergo, federal law says and the government intends to prove, Moussaoui conspired to murder those people. The case is no more complex than that.
If P then Q. Depends on how much Kool-Aid the people have drunk. Even after all this time there are diehards who believe in WMD's in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein worked hand in hand with al Qaida. You never know who is going to be on the jury or how independent a thinker they might be.
The feds must establish first that Moussaoui's lies to federal agents at the time of his arrest -- e.g., when he denied his latent interest in flying planes into buildings -- "resulted" in at least one of the 9/11 deaths. Indeed, because of the peculiarities of federal criminal law, in addition to trying to pin Moussaoui to the worst crime in American history, the feds also must try to pin on him the rap that he also is responsible for the worst intelligence failure in American history; that had he told the truth to the authorities back in August 2001 they would have foiled the plot one month later.
Somebody has been watching a little too much fantasy TV or faux news if they think that is a likely scenario to a government that ignores warnings all the time.
The government, in other words, needs by law to blame Moussaoui for the attacks even though he was reportedly clueless and in custody on 9/11. Moussaoui's lawyers, not surprisingly, therefore want to try to deflect blame from their client by arguing that government was clueless, too. They will try to convince the jury that nothing the defendant could have said in August 2001 would have awakened sleepy intelligence officials to the imminent threat of hijacked planes being piloted into buildings. So a trial about terrorism will also become a trial about foiling terrorism -- and our failure to do so back in 2001. Ugly? You bet.
Our government, clueless? Say it isn't so.
Defense attorneys are going to hammer away at the government's pre-attack intelligence as they try to convince jurors that the feds knew way more than Moussaoui about the threat of hijacked planes being used as missiles. For example, they are likely to argue that if the government didn't do enough to beef up airline security after the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S. (by hijacking airplanes)" than why in the world would an honest Moussaoui statement that month have done anything more to convince the machinery of government to get into gear? The idea will be to convince jurors that Moussaoui's silence- his refusal to divulge his terror training-- would not have made a difference."
And it wouldn't. We don't listen to warnings about anything, being so superior and arrogant and all. There is no global warming, no rising threat of world terrorism, no economic slowdown, no torture, no healthcare crisis, no worries.

Until something goes wrong. Then it's the fault of the guy with the least power or rank.

Which, I guess, makes him guilty in this administration's world view.

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